During my first year of teaching, I traveled with several co-workers to a week-long professional development training in Boone, North Carolina. Although I gained a wealth of knowledge on student learning styles, the culmination of the session was a trip to Grandfather Mountain.
I was looking forward to this experience, until I heard fellow educators make comments about us all crossing the Mile High Swinging Bridge. I know my heart fluttered when I heard the words 'mile high,' but the image of a swinging bridge almost took my breath away. I silently prayed that crossing the bridge would not be a requirement. After reaching the bridge I was convinced that it would not be a requirement for me.
I was afraid to cross over and remained safely planted on ground that was not swinging. Why would anyone want to cross a bridge that was suspended in air one mile above sea level?
Honestly, my fear caused me to make excuses and prevented me from crossing over.
For years I have always regretted not tackling the bridge.
I promised myself that one day I would go back and cross over to the other side.
Fifteen years later, I decided to celebrate my birthday by facing my fears and finally crossing the swinging bridge. I was settled on walking across until I reached the bridge.
Then, as I stood in the same spot that I had stood years earlier, I was again overcome with fear. I assumed that I was quietly contemplating my decision, but after a few people stopped to offer words of encouragement, I realized that I must have looked frightened.
I began to pray because I desired to conquer the feat that day. I watched people walk across and return and there I stood planted in the same spot. One gentleman stopped and offered words that were actually the answer to my prayer.
"You can do it. Don't look down, just keep your eyes focused on the other side." As soon as he spoke those words to me, a sense of peace and courage overpowered the fear that I had wrestled with for over thirty minutes.
With my eyes set on my destination, I stepped on the bridge and walked across to the other side.
When I stepped off the bridge, I was greeted by a family of three generations who had watched me as I made the decision to cross over. I did not have to look for anyone to celebrate the "milestone" trip with me, as the daughter extended her hand and began a conversation that will forever be etched in my memory.
"Hi! What's your name?" "I am Iris."
"Nice to meet you, Iris. I am Grace and I have been watching you the whole time. I knew you were going to cross over."
Grace was watching me the whole time?